Why is Rest Good for Creativity? | The Art And Beyond


As humans, if we don’t schedule a time to rest, our bodies will force us to, and it will probably be at an inconvenient time. And as an artist, you’re no different! I learned this the very hard way. It is true that practicing a little art every day creates momentum, which compounds amazing growth and develops creative skills. However, let me share with you why rest is good for artists and how you can pick the right time to take a break.

Drawing, painting, designing, and writing after a long break definitely make you feel rusty. It takes a lot of time and practice to fall back into the habit of creating. However, breaks are mandatory and necessary for the human brain to develop. It is especially important for your mental health and creativity as an artist to take breaks and allow yourself some time to recover.

Why is rest good for creativity? And why do you need to schedule rest periods as an artist?

A couple of years ago, I didn’t want to accept the fact that I needed to take breaks. Until I realized that working with no breaks leads to art blocks, what I also learned was that rest is good for your creativity because a little break allows you to come back with fresh eyes, which allows you to see the mistakes in your work and provides you with a newer perspective on where you may want to take your work.

In a study by a clinical psychologist at Green Room Psychology, Sarah Borg explains that taking no breaks leads to burnout, where people find themselves obsessing, catastrophizing, or being self-critical. Crucially, for creative people, rest allows the brain to be in default mode, a state where thinking is more flexible and innovative.

The secret to a balanced way of working is to separate your thinking time from your production time. In the book Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon, the author shares a very great tip that I found helpful. He insists on separating the digital from the handmade work. Similarly, I feel like separating thinking or theoretical art learning from practice and production time is an effective shortcut to staying organized and minimizing overwhelm.

When should you schedule your breaks?

Rest is good for creativity, and many people would tell you to schedule a day in the week that is always a day off, no matter the case. Personally, that never worked for me. As an artist, my work and my way of working depend severely on my mood and how I am feeling; and I would never recommend anyone to create on days when creative work feels like a chore. It is so much more important to work smartly according to your health, your body, and your mental capacity.

Another important thing to take into consideration when scheduling your breaks is that you need to be efficient with your time. In my previous article, I explained that we all have peak focus hours; some of us prefer to work in the morning and others feel like their peak focus is the evening or late at night. We are all different, and we only succeed when we learn our differences and come to appreciate and work with what we have. So, next time you feel like you are having a peak focus moment, pay attention to the time and make sure you only use it to work on creative big projects that require great attention and focus. Do not spend your peak focus hours doing emails or scrolling on social media.

Breaks should follow a creative thinking session

I know with social media, the pressure is huge. Artists feel like they are falling behind compared to other artists. Some people seem like they work 24/7 and they may be, but that’s not how everyone is functioning or supposed to function. As a creative, you need time for visual nutrition, only sucking up data and feeding your taste. You also need a break where you allow your creative ideas to marinate and develop. Then comes the break that you should take mid-working on the production part of your art-making process, for you to continue working with a fresh vision and more enthusiasm. Don’t work yourself off until you are bored because that’s a creativity killer.

What do you do during your creative breaks?

Artists know that everything in their lives informs their experiences and the art they create. There’s a big difference between being “lazy” and taking breaks. I personally keep my journal and my sketchbook around even during my breaks. A creative brain receives tons of ideas, and if we do not write them down, we risk losing ideas that hold great potential.

Some of the things I like to do during my creative breaks include brain dumping, art journaling, playing family games, solving puzzles, or doing some physical activity such as walking or dancing. These are some activities I include in my creative breaks that really catalyze more creativity.


This article is your reminder that you need rest as an artist. Once again, remember that if you don’t schedule breaks when it’s convenient to you, your body will force you to take one at a, probably, inconvenient moment. Go easy on yourselves and enjoy creating ❤

Originally published at https://theartandbeyond.com on July 3, 2023.